Mr. Davis greets me in a rush. Doesn’t even look at me. He knots his tie on the way to the elevator. Mrs. Davis follows soon after. She stutters over her greeting twice. Faulty wiring. Vocal controls need to be fixed. But she looks me in the eye at least. I respond with a nod. No time for words. I’m running late. The elevator’s already headed to the ground floor.
I press the button and wait. More neighbors emerge into the hallway. Moving fast. A ding, and the doors open. A dozen of us wedge ourselves inside. And we’re headed down. Silence. Small talk not part of their programming. Then the sound of tapping. Fingers against plastic screens. Someone snorts. A funny text. Another ding. We ooze out like toothpaste. Some head to the parking garage. Others to the bus stop. I fall in step with the latter.
The bus pulls in as I reach the stop. We file in as another group files out. Night shift. Or they work here. Maybe they’re just bored. Doesn’t matter. I’m on the bus. Scan-cam flits around, checking bus passes. All clear. The bus rumbles along. Twenty minutes trickle past like water from a dripping faucet. So many stops. Is it always this many? I glance at my watch. Almost there. One more stop. I get in line. Single file out the door. A moving cloud of people floating into the train station.
Inside, the cloud disperses into droplets. Garbled announcements ring out. More audio issues. Need to be fixed. Trains pull in. Crowds descend upon them. Like piranhas feasting on big fish. But the big fish win. Swallow them up. Trains pull out. Another announcement. The jumbled words are familiar. My train’s coming. So are the piranhas.
I get caught in the current. Flow into the train. Manage to find my footing again. No empty seats. There never are. Doors close, cutting off the crowd outside. The train exits the station. The city passes by on either side of the tracks. Trees waving in the breeze. Cars zooming back and forth. A few stations later, the city changes. Less green, more silver. Buildings get taller. Cars lined up on the highway. Like they’re stuck in time. Air is thicker too. Smoggier. Just a few more stops. Half hour trip. Always feels longer when you’re standing. Doors whoosh open. The tide flows out. I exit the station. Walk another five minutes. Gleaming office tower in front of me. Reflective blue glass.
I walk through the lobby. Greet Bill the security guard. He nods. He raises his hand. Movement too mechanical. A ping from the ID scanner. I’m through. Into the elevator pit. Eight elevators, all taken. Watching numbers rise and fall. Like a stockbroker with nowhere to go. Ding. Finally. Wedge myself in. More texting. No conversation. Up to the 35th floor. Several dings along the way. Doors open.
People running back and forth. Meetings. Phone calls. Deadlines to be met. I walk to my desk. Check some emails. Type in a few commands. Everything stops. Complete silence. People sitting. Standing. Mid-stride.
A few glitches, but everything looks good. It could be a real city. With a few tweaks, it will be. I make some notes. Resume the session. People rush about again. Time to get to work. It’s been a slow morning.